Seattle Public Utilities

Seattle, Washington, United States

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is working to implement a Long-Term Control Plan that identifies over $700 million in local wastewater and stormwater improvements to be made in the next 20 years. SPU is using the integrated planning framework to maximize its investment and environmental impact and Raftelis was engaged by SPU in 2019 to perform a financial planning and customer affordability analysis as part of this integrated planning process. The specific elements of the analysis, include:

  • Development of a comprehensive financial planning and rate-setting model that evaluates alternative capital scenarios and rate structure options
  • Integrating enhanced performance measurement and affordability assessment techniques into the financial modeling
  • Preparing a customer affordability analysis in accordance with EPA’s 1997 Guidance and more recent and extensive evaluation techniques
  • Collaboration with SPU leadership to explore the unique affordability challenges of Seattle, such as a relatively high median income with pockets of severe poverty as well as the effect of other costs of living.

The output of this work has become a central part of the City’s negotiations with the US EPA and State officials in negotiations for a consent decree amendment. Raftelis was engaged to prepare an updated evaluation of the City’s financial capability assessment based on the newly published guidelines from the US EPA. Raftelis developed a tool to explore the City’s current assessment results which were presented to the City’s regulatory teams.

Raftelis was engaged by SPU in 2021 to re-develop the City’s water enterprise financial planning model. The City has long-maintained an Excel-based model that was developed internally over 10 years ago and Raftelis will be working closely with the City to rebuild this tool. The tool is a critical asset for the City’s rates team to use when exploring multi-year rate plans, cost-of-service analyses, and other sensitivity assessments.